Where did 2019 go? Though it wasn’t our biggest year of travel, we left our home of four years in the USA and are looking for a new adventure abroad. While we’re making long-overdue rounds to see family and friends in Australia, here is the best of our 2019 travel including the Coffee Region of Colombia and some of the most amazing National Parks in the USA. Don’t forget to join me on Instagram for more inspiring travel images.
If you’re new to Duende, you might not know that our goal is to travel once per month if only for a weekend. The last three years we’ve made this happen, and you can find some of our past destinations on our Year in Travel Reviews for 2016, 2017 and 2018. If you want to travel more, I documented our planning process in a step-by-step FREE challenge that you can sign up to at 15×15 Travel More Challenge. You can begin the challenge any time.
Honduras and Guatemala
We rang in 2019 in Copan, Honduras, in the midst of a Central America trip that also took us to Belize and Guatemala. Our time in Honduras was short – a 2-night hop over the border from Guatemala to see some unique Mayan ruins and hang out with rescued birds at Macaw Mountain. Back in Guatemala we continued on to the incredible Lake Aititlan, visiting lakeside villages producing beautiful, traditional artworks and textiles. We completed our journey in the gorgeous Spanish colonial town of Antigua, exploring earthquake ruined Spanish Baroque architecture, learning to make chocolate like Mayans and roasting marshmallows on a lava flow – as you do!
I’m not sure if our trip satisfied our desire to see Colombia or just made our bucket list longer!? From a relaxing couple of days in Cartagena, Colombia’s walled city on the Caribbean, we took to the Andes to see less touristed areas of the Coffee Region, aka the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia (CCLC). We rounded out our trip with a final stop in Bogota for a great interactive history lesson.
New Orleans take two
If there’s one place in the US (besides New York City) that I have been desparate to return, its New Orleans. The first time around we really just lapped up the Mardi Gras vibe and it was clear there was a whole lot more going on there that we needed to check out. So now we’ve done all the somewhat foundational things one does during Mardi Gras, I wrote this first-time visitors guide, added to my NOLA food guide along with a whole new post just on unique cocktails from the Big Easy, phew!
I was in Chicago twice this year for less than 24-hours due to embassy appointments – but it counts, right? I used this time to fill in some gaps around my first visit which helped me complete this Chicago city guide and when the weather turned ugly I was only too happy to hole up in the Art Institute of Chicago for the afternoon and see some of the artworks that were touring the first time I went there – welcome back American Gothic!
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed exploring San Francisco. It’s rare I get to spend an entire week in a city, and I promise I did not take it easy – I walked over 16km walking per day! There is soooo much to see in San Francisco and I discovered more while I was on the ground including this cool Frank Lloyd Wright building and the stunning Garden Court at the Palace Hotel. If you haven’t followed me on Instagram yet, you should know that I post some exclusive content there.
Our July 4 week road trip of California’s most notable cities and incredible National Parks. From the heights of Yosemite to the depths of Death Valley, and all the Mid-Century architectural goodness of Palm Springs. Of course, we did LA, Joshua Tree and San Francisco (again) too. What can I say? California’s extreme landscapes blew me away and I highly recommend taking some time to explore there. Here’s our road trip itinerary which crams a lot of California into 10-days.
Wright around Wisconsin
If you’ve been following me for a while, you might have noticed I’m a big fan of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. So my patient husband agreed to whisk me away to Wisconsin for the weekend. I promised him cheese, but the truth is that we had very little time for tasting dairy products as we took on the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail in 3-days. So he had to be satiated by learning more about FLW than he ever wanted to know. Meanwhile, I was in design heaven!
Bonus trip!! One of the perks of being a travel blogging, trailing spouse is being able to accompany hubbie on business trips to new places. This was his second whirlwind trip to Seattle this year, so I insisted on tagging along. I teamed up with my friend Rach who joined me from Vancouver, and we explored together. Rach and I are very much on the same wavelength when it comes to seeking out unusual sights, especially the art, architecture and pop culture related ones. This time we ducked down to Tacoma for an extra shot of Dale Chihuly and his fellow glass artists at the Museum of Glass, then went hunting for the high school from 10 Things I Hate About You. See my favourite Seattle sightseeing spots here.
Road tripping Utah’s Mighty 5
Thanksgiving week saw us take on Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks – Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands. We road tripped from Vegas to Denver over 9-days, driving and hiking the highlights of each amazing Park and the incredible landscapes in between, such as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. You can steal our road trip itinerary here.
What are your 2020 travel plans? Tell us in the comments below. If you want to know the exact planning process we use to research and book our trips, why not sign up to our FREE 15×15 Travel More Challenge, to help you get more travel out of the new year?
Peace, love and inspiring travel,